Meet Wayne Milgate, the GM of Velaa Private Island - the Maldives' most exclusive resort.
In this interview, Milgate shares insights on how Velaa achieves the ultimate level of privacy for guests, while still providing first-class enjoyment opportunities. He also discusses the unique design elements of Velaa, including the turtle motifs, as well as the resort's sustainability efforts. Read on to learn more about what sets Velaa apart from other private islands in the Maldives.
How do you ensure guests at Velaa have the ultimate level of privacy while still providing a variety of first-class enjoyment opportunities?
At Velaa we create private moments for all of our guests, whereby they are able to enjoy any activities or personally tailored events for themselves and their family and friends. Our role is to play host to individuals, ensuring that every guest feels as though every activity or moment on the island is tailored solely for them.
Can you speak to the unique design elements of Velaa, such as the turtle motifs?
The name “Velaa” means Turtle in the local Dhivei language, and therefore the island has a strong connection with turtles through both our branding, and the creation of the resort (even to point that if you see Velaa from the air, it has been designed in such a way that the island and overwater buildings resemble a turtle!). As turtles also have a very strong connection to the Maldives and its culture, we use the subtle turtle shell logo in many locations around the property: from the guest villas, public areas and of course within our marketing material.
How does Velaa Private Island stand out among other private islands in the Maldives?
Velaa was created as a passion project by the owners, Jiri and Radka Smejc, and their family and as such, our main goal is to provide a family environment for both guests and staff. By doing this, we have been able to create an amazing “soul” within the property, where both staff and guests can feel at home. With Velaa being one of the best resorts in the world, there is always an expectation of a luxury offering, which can be found in every area - from our guest villas & residences, restaurants, spa and vast array of activities. However, it is our staff that set us apart from many other private islands. By ensuring our staff are well looked after, we know that this translates into an incredible caring group of people who enjoy what they do, and therefore ensures the level of service and engagement with our guests is worlds best.
How does the resort balance preserving the natural beauty of the island while also providing guests with a five-star experience?
We are very aware that another great asset we have is our beautiful island, and on Velaa we have a very large team of dedicated landscapers, environmental, and marine staff, whose job is to ensure we are ever mindful of the importance of finding a balance between our natural beauty (both on land and sea), and the luxury expectations of a very discerning international traveller.
Can you share with us any upcoming projects or developments planned for the property in the near future?
Another exciting philosophy at Velaa is the desire to continually improve the product, whether this be the guest experiences, new facilities or simply improving the living arrangements for our staff. With this in mind, we have recently undertaken a large building project by adding a new wellbeing village that includes: Faiy, our new restaurant providing a healthy choice for lunch and dinner, an air-conditioned pilates studio with a yoga deck, and our soon to be completed wellbeing pavilion that will provide both eastern and western wellbeing treatments for our guests, including ayurveda, osteopathy and TCM. In addition, we have built a new beach bar and are in the process of adding a new luxury staff accommodation building for the comfort of our team.
Can you tell us about any particularly memorable experiences or guests that you have had during your time at Velaa so far?
All of our guests are memorable in some way, however, for me the most pleasing interactions I have had or witnessed are with those who have become multiple repeaters. This has become a very important element in creating the atmosphere on Velaa. Our repeat guest ratio is incredibly high, and with this comes special bonds between our guests and staff. This is where you can also find a difference between the normal relationship of luxury service and a genuine family feel.
How does the resort incorporate Maldivian culture into the guest experience at Velaa Private Island?
Velaa is acutely aware of our relationship with the Maldives and our Maldivian people, and from our very inception we have always ensured we incorporate the Maldivian Culture into our guest experience. Our design, whilst being luxurious, is very much influenced by the Maldives; from our name “Velaa” (meaning turtle) taken from Dhivehi language, to the naming of our outlets, boats and CSR projects, which also all have Divehi names. In addition, our staff uniforms, menus, and some guest entertainment has a Maldivian feel. During our weekly Sea and Salt buffet, we also invite the local ladies from a nearby island to prepare authentic food for our guests!
Can you speak to the sustainability efforts that Velaa Private Island has in place?
Sustainability is at the forefront of almost every responsible resort, with Velaa being no exception. The difference with our program is that we believe the importance of sustainability is not how large scale or how much PR you can achieve by this commitment, but only from meaningful projects that have a direct impact with long term sustainability. Our program Fehikuramaa commenced in 2021, and our aim is to carry out activities in support of global sustainable development by achieving its goals for creating environmentally friendly and greener island communities within the atoll island communities of Maldives; from waste management, composting and home gardening to ocean protection.
How does Velaa Private Island adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the luxury hospitality industry?
Whilst the landscape of the luxury hospitality industry is changing, there are fundamentals that remain the same. It is an expectation that everything that a guest touches, sees or feels on Velaa is the best or highest quality in the world. But these are not the basis of our luxury offering. To ensure guest expectations are exceeded by engagement with our staff, and making them feel that every one of them are the most important guest on the island at every moment, is the fundamental of our luxury service. We create memories with private moments for all guests and we have found that what they are seeking is the feeling of being at a place that they can feel at home.
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